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Asymptotic and bootstrap inference for inequality and poverty measures

  • Davidson, Russell
  • Flachaire, Emmanuel

A random sample drawn from a population would appear to offer an ideal opportunity to use the bootstrap in order to perform accurate inference, since the observations of the sample are IID. In this paper, Monte Carlo results suggest that bootstrapping a commonly used index of inequality leads to inference that is not accurate even in very large samples. Bootstrapping a poverty measure, on the other hand, gives accurate inference in small samples. We investigate the reasons for the poor performance of the bootstrap, and find that the major cause is the extreme sensitivity of many inequality indices to the exact nature of the upper tail of the income distribution. Consequently, a bootstrap sample in which nothing is resampled from the tail can have properties very different from those of the population. This leads us to study two non-standard bootstraps, the m out of n bootstrap, which is valid in some situations where the standard bootstrap fails, and a bootstrap in which the upper tail is modelled parametrically. Monte Carlo results suggest that accurate inference can be achieved with this last method in moderately large samples.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Econometrics.

Volume (Year): 141 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (November)
Pages: 141-166

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Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:141:y:2007:i:1:p:141-166
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  1. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  2. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119, July.
  3. Bruce E. Hansen, 1999. "The Grid Bootstrap And The Autoregressive Model," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 594-607, November.
  4. Frank A Cowell & Emmanuel Flachaire, 2002. "Sensitivity of Inequality Measures to Extreme Values," STICERD - Distributional Analysis Research Programme Papers 60, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  5. Russell Davidson & James G. MacKinnon, 1994. "Graphical Methods for Investigating the Size and Power of Hypothesis Tests," Working Papers 903, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  6. Frank A. Cowell & Emmanuel Flachaire, 2004. "Income distribution and inequality measurement : the problem of extreme values," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques v04101, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
  7. Mills, Jeffrey A & Zandvakili, Sourushe, 1997. "Statistical Inference via Bootstrapping for Measures of Inequality," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 133-50, March-Apr.
  8. Davidson, R. & Duclos, J.Y., 1995. "Statistical Inference for the Measurement of the Incidence of Taxes and Transfers," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 95a30, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  9. Russell Davidson & Jean-Yves Duclos, 2000. "Statistical Inference for Stochastic Dominance and for the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(6), pages 1435-1464, November.
  10. Davidson, R. & Mackinnon, J.G., 1996. "The Size Distorsion of Bootstrap Tests," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 96a15, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  11. Peter Hall & Qiwei Yao, 2003. "Inference in Arch and Garch Models with Heavy--Tailed Errors," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 285-317, January.
  12. Kakwani, Nanak, 1993. "Statistical Inference in the Measurement of Poverty," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(4), pages 632-39, November.
  13. Cowell, Frank A. & Victoria-Feser, Maria-Pia, 1996. "Poverty measurement with contaminated data: A robust approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(9), pages 1761-1771, December.
  14. Schluter, Christian & Trede, Mark, 2002. "Tails of Lorenz curves," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 109(1), pages 151-166, July.
  15. Biewen, Martin, 2002. "Bootstrap inference for inequality, mobility and poverty measurement," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 317-342, June.
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